Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Adds Associate Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Vanessa Gonzalez-Perez, shoulder length brown hair, tan blazer, black blosue

Dr. Brighid Dwyer, Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the School of Arts & Sciences, announces that Vanessa Gonzalez-Perez, Ph.D. recently joined the SAS Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as Associate Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

Vanessa joins us from Princeton University, where she served as the inaugural Assistant Dean for Access, Diversity, and Inclusion supporting STEM graduate departments and the Acting Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs in the Graduate School. Before her time at Princeton, Vanessa worked as an Assistant Research Professor for the School of Pharmacy at Washington State University. She also held Postdoctoral Fellow positions at the University of North Carolina and at North Carolina Central University.   

Vanessa began her career in science by following her interests in biology, which led her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus, followed by a post-baccalaureate experience at the National Institutes of Health. Committed to her interests in biomedical research, after her bachelor’s and master’s, she completed a Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  

Vanessa identifies as a scholar from a first-generation and low-income background and is a self-described Latina, scientist, service leader, and mentor. Throughout her career, she has advocated for the accessibility and success of historically underrepresented scholars in STEM. She has been recognized by Cell Mentor as amongst the “100 inspiring Hispanic/Latinx scientists in America.” Vanessa’s notable accomplishments include helping to develop critical collaborations between North Carolina Central University and the UNC Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics. She also co-founded the UNC-Chapel Hill Minority Postdoc Alliance. In addition, Vanessa has served as a workshop facilitator/consultant/speaker for numerous institutions and organizations, including University of California, Berkeley, The Leadership Alliance, McNair program, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), Ciencia Puerto Rico, Bergen Community College, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the Society for Hispanic Professionals and Engineers (SHPE), and many more.

Vice Dean Dwyer remarked, “We are so lucky to have Vanessa joining us here at Penn. She is a star who has extensive experience recruiting graduate students and building supportive communities where they can thrive. She is a role model, a collaborator, and a leader in higher education.”  

Vanessa will work closely with SAS faculty, department leaders in the School, and staff and administrative campus partners to create and sustain pathway and bridge programs for minoritized scholars, particularly focusing on underrepresented populations in STEM fields.  

Vanessa herself is “beyond excited to join the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the School of Arts and Sciences.” She states, “I am looking forward to promoting transformational work alongside colleagues and campus partners to positively impact the experience of students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and staff.”  

The SAS Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion welcomes Vanessa to the University of Pennsylvania!